Archie searches in vain for the buzz word

ARCHIE MACPHERSON has had a difficult week on Eurosport as the lone British commentator on the African Cup of Nations, the only international football tournament that sounds like a hot beverage.

The South African technicians keep flashing up the wrong graphics, so that when he's talking about, say, Aurelian Bekogo-Zolo, we're looking at his Gabonese colleague Chisse Tchambouka-Inongo. Then people will keep standing in front of the camera, which somewhat restricts Archie's view and ours. Worst of all, though, there are no Scottish players in the entire tournament.

The strain finally got to Archie on Friday night, when, on the slim evidence of his surname, he decided that the Gabonese forward Mackaya was of Celtic extraction. "I suspect there may have been a Scottish missionary in that area once," Archie declared, stating his position on the issue. "And the Scottish thing about him," in the striking absence of red hair, say, or a kilt, "is that he doesn't lie down, he doesn't give up." Poor Archie. How much easier things would have been for him if Craig Brown's lads had made it through the qualifying stages.

Another problem for Archie on Friday night was that, apart from the bloke who kept standing in front of the camera, hardly anyone else had shown up to watch the game. "A real buzz from the crowd, now," he raved, suffering from a bee in the bonnet. The camera focused on a couple of gyrating fans. "That's the Gabonese Glee Club." Sid and Doris Bonkas?

Eurosport has been doing very well this week, bringing cable and satellite viewers not only the Cup of Nations but the Australian Open tennis from Melbourne. All very little to do with Europe, but then Afro-Australasiosport doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

Eurosport's style is to take "feed" pictures from the host nation's broadcaster and allow commentators from the various nations that receive the channel to talk over the top. No language problems, and they save money: there's no link-man, no multilingual EuroDes.

The down side of this is that it is very difficult to work out who is doing the commentating. Occasionally there is a caption, but more often than not it is in German and is trying to sell you something rather than tell you who is talking. (If it wasn't you, Archie, get on to your lawyers - there's an impersonator at work.)

From the banter between the two tennis commentators during Andre Agassi's match with Steve Bryan I managed to work out that one of the people chatting was called Bob. But Bob who? Dylan? Monkhouse? Whoever it was - Bob Hewitt is not a bad bet - was keen to discuss the religious attitudes of the players. Agassi, for instance, "supposedly a Christian", and "That's where you can admire Michael Chang so much, he's also a Christian."

Bible Bob even had a scriptural parallel for Andre Agassi's latest experiments in hairstyling: "Unlike Samson, when he shaved those locks he became a better player." Yeah, well, Samson's drop volley was never the same after he took up with that Delilah. "You are what you are," Bob concluded. "You can't change it." On second thoughts, it must have been Dylan.

Agassi's problem, as usual, was sartorial: his shirt was too long. Clearly, though, for a man of his celebrated and lucrative scruffiness, tucking it in was out of the question. Instead he fiddled with the hem, rolling it up and tying it in knots while doing much the same to his opponent.

Agassi was barely out of second gear to defeat Bryan, prompting Bible Bob's nameless friend in the commentary box to observe: "Agassi has never been known for great footwork to get out of the way of the ball." Maybe Mark Ramprakash should take up tennis.

Michael Aspel used striking imagery to describe the subject of This is Your Life (BBC1). "A fortress towering over the city, known as Auld Reekie", which seemed a rather rude term for Gavin Hastings. Perhaps a team-mate had sneaked on the scent of his socks after 80 minutes on the pitch.

Aspel made up for the insult with some fab fawning. "The Big Man, a real- life Braveheart, Captain Courageous." And the guests on the show were united in their admiration. "Fantastic," said Sean Fitzpatrick. "Fantastic," commented Rob Andrew. Seeking a rebuttal of these opinions, Aspel turned to Gavin's mum. "I think he's fantastic," she controversially revealed.

The best moment on the show was Andrew's entry, with his hand thrust meaningfully into his wallet pocket. Instead of saying "Hello", Hastings greeted him with: "I've been trying to ring you for three days." Never mind the big red book: "Gavin Hastings, This Is Your Newcastle Contract."

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